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Hacked Emergency Sirens Wake Dallas Residents at Midnight


By Evan Stewart
Contributor, In Cyber Defense

Residents of Dallas, Texas, were suddenly awakened just before midnight last Friday, when hackers set off 156 emergency sirens simultaneously.

Officials shut down and reactivated the warning system more than a dozen times before they determined it was safe to completely shut down the system for repairs. The officials concluded that hackers had tapped into the system and wreaked havoc.

By noon Saturday, the warning system was running properly again.

Over 4,400 Calls Flooded Emergency Centers in Three Hours

The alarm sirens prompted calls to flood 911 dispatch centers, despite efforts by the city to inform residents that there was no real emergency. Emergency centers received more than 4,400 calls in approximately three hours.

The rash of calls led to abnormally long wait times of as long as six minutes before dispatchers could respond. Dispatchers normally have a goal of answering all calls within the first 10 seconds.

Dallas officials know how the breach occurred and are working on more safety features to prevent a similar hack from happening again. City officials are taking this hack very seriously and are making the emergency system’s security safety a top priority.

The names of potential hacking suspects have not been released. However, the director of the Dallas Office of Emergency Management, Rocky Vaz, told Dallas Morning News that the individuals responsible are “outside our system but still in the Dallas area.”